When the Presidential and vice-Presidential hopefuls talk foreign policy, they look every which way --- towards the Middle East, Russia, Europe, Asia or Africa, but they largely ignore our own backyard.
In the next decades of the 21st Century, our policymakers will need different priorities. When looking for our closest allies, we may well need to look away from current entanglements in unfortunate, far away places and towards a stronger relationship with countries --- notably Canada --- with whom we share so much. read more »
Pick anytown, USA. You were born there; went to school there; made your living there; had your children and grandchildren and ended your life there. Headstones, like many, tell the story of who came and who went and they helped make the town a unique place.
And so, for a moment, I lamented at how much of that we had lost in the changes we have witnessed over the decades. Here we are in the biggest financial crisis in history, or at least since the Great Depression. What do we do? read more »
The subject of immigration in Canada presents a great dilemma for many Canadians. Like other countries of the western world, Canadians do not have enough children of their own to maintain the population at its present level. At the same time, the overall population, which is around 33 million, is getting older. Baby boomers are looking at retirement. Many calculate the amount of income they will need in order to maintain a decent standard of living. Their calculations include government pensions. read more »
Old Manhattan had a farm
Ee-yi ee-yi O
As a child of the early Sixties, I fondly remember the days when colossal albeit stupid technological projects were fashionable. I remember in particular a cartoon that showed a subway running from the U.S. to China right through the center of the earth. Of course, this brings to mind Thoreau’s quip that, while the telegraph might connect Maine to Texas, would Maine and Texas have anything to say to each other? But the very point of the trans-core subway was its pointlessness. If titanic, useless engineering projects like the Hoover Dam are impressive, then how much more impressive are titanic, useless engineering projects! read more »
In the popular media much of the blame for the current crisis lies with sub-prime mortgages. Yet the main culprit was not the gullible homebuyer in Stockton or the seedy mortgage company. The real problem lay on Wall Street, and it’s addiction to ever more arcane financial innovation. As we try to understand the current crisis, and figure ways out of it, we need to understand precisely what, in the main, went wrong. read more »
There is more than enough blame to go around for the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and the unraveling financial disaster. But I believe the fundamental blame lies in two places: A purely American NIMBY myth about homeowners being the only genuine contributors to their communities and a capitalistic axiom, presumably started and perpetuated by a troika among realtors, homebuilders, and mortgage lenders, that the only way for middle-income Americans to truly create wealth is through homeownership. read more »
The matter of whether private companies should be required to include so-called affordable housing units in residential developments is worthy of debate. Perhaps any developer who takes public funding ought to be subject to such requirements. A developer who doesn’t take public money is a different story. read more »
The globalization of housing markets stood at the center of the vast, now unraveling, economic change of the past decade. The creation of new investment vehicles in the 90s diverted vast amounts of capital into housing markets around the world. The results were many and varied. Design features began to converge, with gated communities following shopping malls into cites in Latin America, China, Turkey and most other countries. Home prices began to rise, with The Economist even publishing a table of global house prices, indicating those with the most inflated costs read more »
I entered the field of futures research in 1981. No, not futures – contracts to deliver a certain commodity at a certain price at a date certain (God, I wish I had) – futures research, as in scenarios, trends, strategic planning and market planning. Unfortunately the place was soon lousy with what I call “futurism”: extrapolations of the unsustainable to make the improbable look inevitable.
A current example: suburbs are doomed because of high energy prices (peak oil!), the housing bubble, the obsolescence of the internal combustion engine, and yes, global warming (and what hasn’t been blamed on global warming?). Besides, the urban renaissance is underway; people want to live in the city for the culture, food, music and hipness, don’tchaknow. read more »
In 1869 L. U. Reavis spoke for many when he made the case for moving the nation’s capital from, as he put it, “the banks of the Potomac to the banks of the Mississippi.” Citing St. Louis’s location in the exact center of the nation, the growing population of the Mississippi Valley, the presumably temporary expediency that had led leaders to place the capital in Washington in the first place, and the commercial advantages of a capital city on the Mississippi River, read more »